Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday pledged to “retrieve” the territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh from India, returning the focus to a border row that had taken relations between the two countries to a low last year.
Oli, who has sought to shore up his nationalist credentials after dissolving the House of Representatives, or lower house of Parliament, made the remarks while addressing the National Assembly, or upper house. The comments are unlikely to go down well with the Indian government, which has put considerable effort into improving relations in the past few months.
“Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh, which are located east of the Mahakali river belong to Nepal as per the Sugauli Treaty. We will get them back through diplomatic talks with India,” Oli told the National Assembly session, according to Republica news website.
Nepal’s rulers never made efforts to reclaim Nepalese territories after Indian military forces were stationed in the region after the India-China war of 1962, he said.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Oli’s comments.
Oli triggered a border row last year after his government issued a new political map that showed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh – all controlled by India – as part of Nepalese territory. The map was issued after India built a new road to the strategic region on the border with China.
“Some people are restless because my government issued the new political map incorporating the encroached Nepali territories. In fact, our rulers hesitated to speak against the Indian encroachment. Now, we are working to get back these territories,” Oli told the National Assembly.
Over the past few weeks, Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Goel, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla visited Kathmandu to help put the bilateral relationship back on an even keel. Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is scheduled to visit India on January 14 for a meeting of the bilateral joint commission with his counterpart.
Oli, however, said his government has made sincere efforts to strengthen relations with both India and China, and these ties had reached “new heights”. He also described the recent visits by Indian and Chinese officials as goodwill visits.
“We are working to deepen ties with India based on sovereign equality. In fact, we want to deepen the relationship with India in [the] true sense and we should not hesitate to raise our issues of genuine concerns with India,” he said.
Referring to the visits of Indian and Chinese officials, Oli said: “They came here to convey their good wishes. There is nothing to worry much about that.”
A high-level Chinese delegation led by Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the international department of the Communist Party of China, had recently travelled to Nepal to try to broker a truce between Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, his main rival in the ruling Nepal Communist Party. The growing differences between the two leaders had prompted Oli to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections in April-May.
Oli described his act of dissolving Parliament as constitutional. “I was forced to dissolve the House of the Representatives as some people in my party did not allow the government to perform well,” he said.